Addiction

By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Schizophrenia

By: Dianna Gomez

Schizophrenia is generally known to be a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Schizophrenic individuals most often have had a break with reality. When the average person hears the term ‘schizophrenia’ they immediately associate the illness with things such as hallucinations, hearing of voices, etc. Although these are accurate possibilities, there are several additional types of schizophrenia that many people aren’t aware of that people suffer from all around the globe. There are a total 5 subtypes of schizophrenia including: paranoid, disorganized, residual, catatonic and undifferentiated.

Paranoid: delusions (beliefs that may seem real to the person suffering but are not actually happening) such as believing the government is spying on them. Another symptom seen in this subtype is auditory hallucinations (hearing voices that are not real). Most often, these voices are not kind. They encourage the person to hurt others, hurt themselves, etc. These people may also see things that aren’t truly there (ex: seeing the devil).

Disorganized: in addition to having hallucinations and delusions, people with this type of schizophrenia have problems with disorganized speech (ex: speaking but not making any sense/word salad), disorganized thoughts (ex: quickly jumping from one topic to the next).

Residual: people with this type of schizophrenia mainly struggle with a lack of initiative, poor self-care/hygiene, poor social performance, underactivity, passivity, poor non-verbal communication (facial expressions, eye contact, etc). These people do not experience nearly as many hallucinations and delusions.

Catatonic: disturbances in a person’s movements and/or immobility. Catatonic individuals can maintain very unusual body positions/poses for extended periods of time. If someone were to try to move them, their limbs would be extremely resistant against efforts to be altered.

Undifferentiated: people with this type suffer from 2 or more types of symptoms listed above. They may have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, catatonic behavior, etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from schizophrenia, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 t0 set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com.

Tourette Syndrome

By: Dianna Gomez

Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder. A tic can be classified as an involuntary, repetitive movement or vocalization. Those diagnosed with this disorder will either suffer from vocal/phonic tics or motor tics. In general, vocal/phonic tics produce a sound. Examples of vocal/phonic tics include things such as sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, and shouting. Examples of more complex vocal/phonic tics include full words or phrases. These words or phrases are always out of context and may or may not be recognizable. In 10-15% of cases, words blurted out may be inappropriate such as curse words, ethnic slurs, or other words or phrases that are not viewed as socially acceptable.

Motor tics, generally, are movements. Examples of motor tics include eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking/bobbing, facial grimacing, etc. More complex motor tics include movements that involve multiple muscle groups at once. Examples of these movements are things such as hopping, jumping, twirling, etc.

While the exact cause of Tourette Syndrome is unknown, it has been confirmed that it is hereditary so genetics may play a role. There are, however, some treatment options that are available to help ease the symptoms. Medications for tics include Haloperidol, Pimozide, and Aripiprazole. Speech therapy is also another form of treatment for those with tics. Lastly, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is another method of treatment for tics. DBS is a relatively new procedure that utilizes an implantable electrode to alter the activity of brain circuitry.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Tourette Syndrome, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Bipolar Disorder

By: Dianna Gomez

Bipolar Disorder, also known as “Manic-Depressive,” is a disorder of the brain that causes a person to experience sudden shifts in mood, energy/activity levels, and disrupts their ability to function fully each day. The changes in mood range from a person feeling extremely “up” and energized which are known as manic episodes to feeling extremely “down” and sad which is known as depressive episodes. There are multiple forms of Bipolar Disorder, however, the two main types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Regardless of the type a person has, he or she still suffers from very similar symptoms. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes/symptoms that are either so severe the individual needs to be hospitalized immediately or the episode itself has lasted for at least 7 days. Depressive episodes occur in people with this type of Bipolar as well and these episodes can last up to at least 2 weeks at a time. Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a certain pattern of depressive episodes followed by some hypo-manic episodes. The only difference between manic and hypo-manic is that hypo-manic episodes are not as intense as full on manic ones. More specifically, when a person is having a manic episode they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or “weird”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Racing thoughts
  • Participating in risky behaviors (ex: spending all your money)

On the other hand, when a person is going through a depressive episode, he or she can experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Thinking about death and/or suicide

Luckily, there are several forms of treatment that a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can seek out to help them live a more normal and stable lifestyle. Methods of treatment include: medications (mood stabilizers, sleep medications, antidepressants, and atypical anti-psychotics), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, and interpersonal therapy), or a combination of both. Even while taking medications some mood swings may still occur. This makes it especially important that there is a close and honest patient-doctor relationship in order to manage the disorder in the most efficient way possible. In addition to these, there is also electroconvulsive therapy or “ECT,” and keeping a lifestyle chart. When keeping the lifestyle chart, the patient records their daily symptoms, sleep patterns, and other important life events.

 

If you or anyone you know may suffer from either Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II Disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Insomnia

By: Dianna Gomez

Insomnia is a condition that makes it very difficult for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Insomnia can be caused by medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, or for psychological reasons such as anxiety, depression or intrusive thoughts. In addition to these possibilities, the type of lifestyle an individual chooses to live can also be responsible for creating symptoms of insomnia. There are a few things that people who experience insomnia tend to do that may be worsening their symptoms without them even knowing. Some examples of these lifestyle habits include:

  1. Taking Mid-Day Naps
  • Whether it is short or long, sleeping in the middle of the day can increase a person’s chances of having difficulty sleeping through the night. If you can, try to avoid taking naps all together.
  1. Sleeping In Late
  • When a person is lacking sleep, it isn’t uncommon for them to attempt to fix the problem by sleeping in later the next morning to make up for their “lost hours.” However, by doing so, you are confusing your body clock which then makes it difficult to fall asleep at a regular time again the following night. This can quickly create a vicious cycle that is even harder to break.
  1. Taking Your Work Home With You
  • Regardless of what your occupation is, almost everybody has hectic daily schedules. When people are feeling behind on their work, they often decide to put in a little “over-time” by bringing their work home with them. By doing this, you make the process of “winding down” at night harder as your mind is kept wide awake and pre-occupied when it shouldn’t be.
  1. Using Electronics
  • Especially in today’s generation, it is extremely common for people to use their phones or laptops while lying in bed right before they intend to fall sleep. The problem with this, however, is that bright screens like those on our electronics actually stimulate the brain more and cause you to stay awake. This then makes it more difficult to fall asleep for the night.
  1. Working Irregular Hours
  • If you have a job that has you on various different “shifts,” sleeping may become a problem for you. If a person doesn’t stay on a regimented time schedule, their body clock cannot decipher when it should be waking up to take on a new day or winding down to get ready for bed.

 

If you have already tried reversing these lifestyle habits and still regularly experience symptoms of insomnia, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By: Dianna Gomez

Panic. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why is my heart beating out of my chest? Am I dying? Why can’t I make it stop?!

For some of us, these emotions are all too familiar. Anxiety can be a scary thing, especially when you’re not totally up-to-date on what exactly it is. What are you to do when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Well, have no fear because I have a few helpful tips to share!

 

Here are 5 things that you can do to calm yourself down when suffering from an anxiety attack:

  • Take Deep Breathes

Inhale. Exhale. Tell yourself that although it may not feel like it right now, everything will be okay.

  •  Talk Yourself Down

Repeat a calming/kind phrase to yourself OUT LOUD. Remind yourself that you are safe, loved, and never alone.

  • Seek Help

Sometimes we tend to insist that we can get through tough times all on our own, but there is no shame in asking for help. Whether it be a neutral professional, a loved one or someone you trust, find someone with whom you can talk out your troubles.

  • Use Music and Visuals

Never underestimate the power of calming music and visuals. Whether it be classical music, peaceful nature videos/sounds, or your favorite John Mayer song – let the music play and your worries float away!

  • Put Your Anxiety on Ice

Create sensory stimulation by gently sticking both of your hands into a bowl of very cold water with ice. The more ice the better.

 

If either you or anybody you know suffers from anxiety, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

 

 

 

Coping With Stress

By: Dianna Gomez

 

Whether you are a prestigious lawyer or currently unemployed, one thing that all people have in common is that, at one point or another, we have all felt what it’s like to be stressed. The stress may be caused by totally different situations, but at the end of the day those feelings have been felt by us all. You may be asking yourself, “So what simple steps can I take to help myself next time I do feel overwhelmed with stress?” Whether you are a busy college student with 4 exams to study for, an overworked single mom with 2 jobs trying to put food on the table, or a very successful business person with tons of responsibilities, stress can be an issue in anyone’s life.

Here are 5 things you can do to decrease the amount of stress in your life:

#1. Determine Where the Stress is Coming From

  • Is your stress work-related? Is it constantly being caused by the same people in your life? Finding the root of the problem gives you better direction when aiming to correct it.

#2. Eat Healthy

  • For some people, a typical reaction to stress is to “eat your feelings” and turn to comfort foods that are more often than not foods that are processed and high in fat, sugar, or carbs. Although doing this may help you feel better for the short term, it definitely doesn’t help you in the long term which is more important. In fact, it can create problems in the long term that not only don’t help your stress, but add to it as well.

#3. Exercise

  • Go for a walk in the park, take a kick-boxing class, do a few laps in the pool. Get those endorphins flowing!

#4. Make Time for Yourself

  • We all have busy lives – places to be, people to see but nothing is more important than how you feel mentally. Whether it is 10 short minutes or an hour each day, take the time you have to do something you love and to be away from the chaos.

#5. You Can’t Fix What You Can’t Control

  • While you can’t control how your boss acts, what your mother-in-law says, or the current state of the economy, you can control things that you do. If you can’t control it, don’t let it control you!

 

If either you or anybody you know may be suffering from excessive amount of stress, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

Leah Flanzman

Every college student or young adult has spent a Saturday night curled up on the couch in sweatpants with a pint of ice cream; scrolling through Instagram when they see their friends having the time of their lives out on the town.  At that moment, they are hit with a pang of regret on deciding to spend the night in.  Their mind immediately starts forming a million possibilities of jokes being formed and memories being made without them, and they instantly assume they are missing the greatest night ever.  This common phenomenon is called FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

In modern times, Millenials are connected to each other’s lives through their social media presence on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook.  It has become seemingly impossible to remain in the dark about your friend’s whereabouts, which is why FOMO is such an emerging issue.  If you remained in ignorant bliss about what everybody in your phone was up to, there would be no fear of missing out, as the seed of wonder would never be planted.  FOMO triggers the thought that you’re the only person in the world not living their best life in that moment, and can be extremely damaging to your mental health.

FOMO can also be present in a situation where you have to choose between two options, as you cannot be two different places at once.  Let’s say you were invited to Sally’s party and Billy’s party on the same day.  You choose to go to Sally’s party but while you’re there, you see a friend who went to Billy’s party having the best time on their Snapchat story.  This causes a buildup of anxiety from the thought that you could be having more fun if you had made a different decision.  FOMO causes people to develop the attitude that something bigger and better is always around the corner, which is an unproductive, unhealthy mindset.

If you or someone you know is struggling with FOMO that is leading to anxiety, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity

By: Leah Flanzman

The human brain has the power to grow, mold, and adapt to the course of your life in order to best cater to your overall happiness and well-being. This concept is known as neuroplasticity, and occurs when the brain alters its physical structure and changes its circuits so we can better imagine, remember, feel, experience pain, dream, and learn.  Neuroplasticity is similar to the popular expression “it’s like riding a bike.”  Once you acquire a skill, your neurons kick into gear and remember their specific pathways so that each time this skill is performed, they are pre-programmed on what to do.  These pathways strengthen over time as new synapses form maximizing these skills.

Neuroplasticity can be a valuable tool for rewiring how your mind thinks and reacts to certain situations. It can foster increased happiness by retraining your brain to strengthen pathways that promote happiness as an alternative to worry or stress in light of certain situations.  The activities that you choose to do can alter the structure of your brain.  For example, if you are stuck in a funk, doing something positively stimulating for the brain will train it to associate the negative feelings with happier ones.  Your moldable brain will remember the pathways it took to achieve happiness and the next time you experience sadness, it will automatically kick into positivity gear.   Additionally, you can trick your brain into happiness pathways by imagining yourself in your desired mood.  Your brain lacks the capability to distinguish between imagination and reality so if you visualize a desired image of happiness long enough, your brain will believe it to be true and trigger the emotion.

When your brain fills up with neural connections that are relevant to your life, the ones that are unnecessary will begin to deteriorate. Your clever mind can form creative ways to suppress depressive thoughts and shine light on positive thoughts so your unproductive nature fades into the background.  Options that can help you in your quest to mold your brain towards greater happiness include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy
  • Visualization
  • Relaxation
  • Hypnosis
  • Nurturance
  • Stimulation

If you or someone you know thinks they could benefit from therapy that aids in restructuring their brain to think positively, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 

Prescription Drugs and Side Effects

Prescription Drugs and their Side Effects

Emily Ramos

The truth of the matter is that many prescription drugs contain side effects. It is hard to predict whether or not an individual will experience side effects, it depends on how their body reacts to the drug. The good thing is that there are steps an individual can take to reduce the risks. If the side effects persist you can speak with your doctor who can prescribe a lower dosage or a different medication. DO NOT stop taking medication if you experience a side effect, always speak with your doctor. They might have to wean you off of the drug instead of stopping all together. Here’s how you can learn about possible side effects and how to avoid them:

  • Before getting prescribed medicine, ask your doctor about possible side effects that may occur. For example, if nausea is a side effect your doctor may recommend that you eat or drink before taking the medication.
  • Once you start taking medication take note of any symptoms that arise and tell your doctor about them. This will give your doctor a better understanding.
  • Other ways to prevent side effects are to make appropriate lifestyle changes. For example: if a medication causes you to gain weight you will have to pay more attention to your nutrition and incorporate exercise plans.

It may take a few trial and errors before your doctor is able to find a medication that works best for you. That is why it is crucial to be honest with your doctor before and after he or she prescribes medication.

If you or a person you know is struggling with medication, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.